As promised in last week’s post, which gave a preview of our plans, click below to view the prezi that accompanied “Stories of Passion: Tips for Capturing and Communicating the Stories of Your Member-Donors,” our presentation about video storytelling. AFG 25th conference logoWhy was video storytelling such a popular subject at the Association Foundation Group (AFG) 2013 National Conference?  It starts with the fact that attendees are largely association foundation professionals. This means they work for foundations affiliated with associations. These associations and foundations often have different interests and structures, and getting them to work well together takes experience and strategy. The groups face a common central problem: low awareness of the foundation and foundation activities among  association members—even though the foundations  support causes dear to members’ hearts. Mary Bet Dobson of the American Chemical Society (ACS), our wonderful co-presenter, realized that video storytelling could address this problem at her association, the American Chemical Society, and the prezi above highlights four of the story-based videos we created for her association. These indeed had the purpose of raising awareness about ACS philanthropic programs or, in another oft-mentioned expression at the conference, promoting a “culture of philanthropy.”  Key take-aways about video storytelling from the presentation included:

1) Video storytelling might be the next step for your video program

Many of the association foundation representatives and consultants in the audience had had some experience using video.  One of the attendees, for instance, mentioned that her foundation had recorded stakeholders on a flip camera, as they gave brief testimonials, and that people had really enjoyed participating in this. She came to the presentation seeking information to take her video to the next level. Later she remarked that the presentation had prompted her to envision not only higher technical quality, but also deeper, more persuasive stories as the next step—and that she would be using some of the techniques we discussed to achieve this improvement.

2) Great video storytelling requires good story-gathering techniques

To assist our audience with their video storytelling, we provided two handouts focused on good story gathering techniques.  The first, what we call our Video Marketing Matrix, provides a planning template.  It facilitates understanding and exploring your interviewee and their story, the key messages they can deliver within their story, the interview questions that might elicit these messages, and visual images to support their story—a crucial element in the powerful video medium. The second, our Capturing Stories Handout, covers key “on the spot” techniques for gathering stories. Areas include choosing a setting, preparation of the interviewee, tips for good interviewing, and the technical production aspects that affect your ability to tell a story. Techniques for interviewing particularly interested the AFG audience, and one audience member asked us about scripting versus interviewing. MiniMatters uses interviewing more than scripting and, interestingly, ReelSEO, one of the most well-read video marketing blogs, recently said in a post on video storytelling that they favor interviews as an effective—and cost effective—technique. Throughout the presentation, we emphasized the importance of crafting interview questions to bring out the key sound bites and messages for an effective story.  Mary Bet focused in especially on our process for honing the initial interview questions; she advocated for time spent at this juncture as crucial for getting effective video clips and great stories.  If you haven’t already, view the prezi above, for some sample interview questions that led to the authentic, on-message clips for the series of videos we created with her.

3) The best fundraising video in the world still needs distribution

It’s a sign of a great audience that central questions get raised—like a question about video distribution. We emphasize distribution early on in our process with our clients, because distribution determines more than anything else the value of a video campaign. Mary Bet spoke to this issue in relation to the American Chemical Society’s experience, in which they requested a full video marketing plan so that they could integrate the distribution of the six videos with their annual campaign and planned giving newsletters. We also discussed the importance of online video platforms and social media for video distribution.  And, as we’ve written about before, we advocated for email as one of the best ways to distribute video. One of the most gratifying moments came from a fundraising/strategic planning consultant who came up to us later in the day, smiled and said: “I’m putting ACS in my will.” Then he proceeded to tell us that he didn’t actually have a connection to ACS, and that this wasn’t really true, but that the videos had really convinced him of what great things were being done by ACS. What are your thoughts about using video storytelling to raise awareness of the great work you are doing? Let us know in the comments. Comment on this topic If MiniMatters can help you with business video, fundraising video, association video, or other video production needs, we’d love to provide an estimate through our online form, talk with you at 301-339-0339, or communicate via email at [email protected]. We serve associations, foundations, nonprofits, and businesses primarily in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.